Joey and Maryanne agree on one important thing: He needs fixing. He needs her. He feels empty and desperate without her. He says he will die if she leaves him. He has even threatened suicide if she tries. She has an idea that she can rescue him and that she gives meaning to his life. That idea gives meaning to hers.
Neither of these people has a strong sense of self or life goals they are passionate about. The intensity of their relationship consumes them and distracts them from finding and maintaining good friends or good work. They are each other’s everything. What they fail to understand is that by being so wrapped up in the drama of “saving” him, neither one of them is developing personally into the adult they could be. It’s unlikely that Maryanne can “save” Joey when Joey doesn’t really want to stand on his own feet. A marriage created on these terms is likely to be disastrous for them both.
4. To legitimize sex.
Angie and Nick both come from deeply religious families. Angie pledged she would stay pure until marriage. Nick agreed that it was very important to wait until their wedding to have sex. But a combination of hormones and alcohol overtook those good intentions. They had sex. They liked it. They rationalized continuing to be intimate but the guilt that came with it made them both miserable. To them, getting married makes going against their own values at least a little okay. Never mind that they each had some doubts about the relationship before they fell into bed with each other. Never mind that they each still kind of blame the other for what happened. Those seeds of doubt and blame are likely to fester and grow. Marriage may make them feel less guilty about having sex but it won’t resolve other issues that undermine their relationship.
5. To avoid being alone.
Robyn is terrified. She’s always had a boyfriend since she was 13. She has dated a number of guys but always had someone new lined up before she ended a relationship. Now 22, she’s just been dumped by the most recent boyfriend for being too needy. A demanding project at work has meant long hours at the office and no time to look for someone new. She hates being alone in her apartment at night. She doesn’t know what to do with herself on weekends. She feels empty and scared. She’s tried calling her ex but he’s put off by her tears. She’s running through her files for someone, anyone, who can fill up the hole in her life. She’s likely to fall into marriage with the first guy who shows interest just so she’ll never have to feel this way again.
Marriage does provide a partner in life but it doesn’t guarantee that the partner will be good at partnering. Sometimes people like Robyn luck out and find someone who is truly willing and able to be their best friend and companion. More often, they are terribly disappointed. In their rush to marry to fend off their fear of abandonment, they didn’t take the time to find someone who shared their interests and values.